Wounded Parent in Parent Teenager relationship – Postscript – 13 Redemption, 13 Prevention Strategies and Support group books for reference in Episode 23

Wounded Parent in Parent Teenager relationship - Postscript - 13 Redemption, 13 Prevention Strategies and Support group books for reference in Episode 23

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Wednesday 15th, March 2023

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Wounded Parent in Parent Teenager relationship - Postscript - 13 Redemption, 13 Prevention Strategies and Support group books for reference in Episode 23

 

Series – Perfect Relationship: 24 Tools for Building BRIDGES to Harmony and Taking Down WALLS of Conflict in our Relationships.

Episode 23 : Wounded Parent in Parent Teenager relationship – Postscript – 13 Redemption, 13 Prevention Strategies and Support group books for reference in Episode 23

Postscript Redemption and Prevention

This is basically a summarizing set of guidelines for either (1) parents already in the wounded condition or (2) parents who want to prevent becoming wounded. The first section will be a redemptive strategy, while the second will deal with preventive techniques. Most readers will fall into the first category, their situation being somewhat “after the fact,” and this will recap in a nutshell much of what the entire book has been saying, I have talked with many young couples whose children are quite small and for whom there simply hasn’t been enough time for serious parent-child conflict to develop.

Yet these parents are deeply interested in learning how to prevent becoming victims of the wounded-parent syndrome. For them I will offer several suggestions also.

Summarizing a Redemptive Strategy

1. If you are already a wounded parent, remember that you are not alone. Your situation is unique. Your story is your story and no one else’s. But many other parents all around you are equally wounded and hurting deeply. They need help also, help that possibly you can give out of your own experience. This is a common problem in many Christian homes. The biblical story of the prodigal son speaks to many parents today who have a prodigal son or daughter. Without choosing it you have joined a fellowship of suffering.

2. It does little good to try to figure out what went wrong. Usually only God knows the answer, and you cannot go back and relive the past anyhow. Simply reach out to help other hurting parents who live all around you. In addition, get busy on making constructive changes in your own life. If you begin to change, your children will eventually see the difference, and this in time can have a tremendously beneficial effect on their lives. And even if the family situation doesn’t improve, at least the positive change in your life will have been worth it.

3. Release your rebellious child into God’s hands. Turn loose and trust God. I know this is very difficult to do. Parents have a natural inclination, almost an inborn drive, to want to hang on for dear life, believing that any solution or hope of eventual reconciliation depends on their control and direct involvement. However, I have learned that God
works best when we get out of the way and trust Him to do what only He can do. Then, be patient. Solutions and reconciliation take time. God wants to work His redemptive transformations in His own time schedule, Besides, God’s timing is always better than ours. Remember, He sees the total picture; we see only a fragment.
4. In the meantime, learn to control your emotions. Feelings are powerful-for good or for ill. Emotional energy must be channeled by a cool head at the wheel. You are in charge of your feelings. Yes, you are! Each one of us chooses our reactions. Consequently, choose the more constructive and healthy feelings. Reconditioning our emotional responses is hard work, and it takes practice. It often helps to talk out one’s feelings with a trusted confidant and/or counselor. Among other benefits, this helps to “get a handle” on our emotions and steer them in a constructive direction.

5. Stop playing the blame game. It goes nowhere. There are no winners in this game. The human psyche so often wants to blame someone else for life’s problems. None of us is smart enough to know who is to blame, if anyone actually is. Trying to place the blame simply delays one’s own growth process in bringing about constructive change.
Be willing to take responsibility for yourself so far as determining what your involvement has been in the family situation. Let God take care of all the other people in your life. Focus on what you can do about you.

6. Avoid comparing your children with other children your family “mess with other families’ “bliss,” your failures with others’ successes. Such comparisons are counterproductive and will drive the prodigal farther away.

7. Never play the “what if game. It also goes nowhere because there are no winners here. This is a self-punishing fantasy (“What if I had been a better mother?”) or an accusatory rationalization (“What if you had been a better father?”). Nothing constructive can come of such tactics.

8. Seek individual or family counseling from a competent and trained counselor. Don’t try to “go it alone.” Seek help from a skillful counselor especially on how to keep the lines of communication open, with the emphasis placed on learning some listening skills. Shrink your mouth and grow big ears! Never be ashamed to ask for professional help. If you broke your leg, you would seek a good orthopedic doctor, right? If your family relationships are in need of repair, then seek a professional counselor who has good relation- ship-repair skills.

9. Work at maintaining and enriching a healthy marriage. The best thing parents can give to their children is a good marriage. Yet this takes hard work and intentional effort.
Being a wounded parent in itself is usually, at least to some degree, hard on one’s marriage. Concentrating on maintaining a healthy marriage provides strength and confidence for a couple experiencing pain with a prodigal child. One way to nurture and strengthen your marriage is to get involved in marriage-enrichment experiences. A growing number of churches are now providing marriage-enrichment retreats at least once a year. Ask your pastor about scheduling one of these.

10. Organize a support group for wounded parents. Share the pain and learn from one another. One of the values to be discovered in a small support group is that of enabling persons to reach the deeper levels in interpersonal relationships. These levels are caring, sharing, and intimacy.

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11. Grow spiritually and develop a new self-image. Being a wounded parent is very hard on one’s self-image and self-esteem. Self-image is the way you see yourself; self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself. Wounded parents tend
to sink into a poor self-image and consequently feel very bad about themselves. Spiritual growth is the pathway out of this condition. The journey begins when you learn the art of Christ-centered self-affirmation.

12. Seek to build a new relationship with your children become friends. In most cases, prodigal children are too old for their parents to continue “parenting” them. What they need from parents more than anything else is friendship.
This kind of relationship calls for growth that moves one from control to communication from judgment to respect from less talking to more listening.

Try it. These are really your only options for constructive change.

13. Become a wounded healer. This is one way to create purpose and meaning in your pain. Remember that the apostle Paul stated that the “God of all comfort comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Cor. 1:3-4).

As you help others find healing for their parental pain, you will find healing for yourself as well. Besides, being a wounded healer will make you a better friend with your children. Parents who are full of self-pity and resentment over the wayward behavior of their children are so wrapped up in themselves and their pain that they do not make very good friends with anyone. Wounded healers.
I have learned the art of forgiveness, and forgiveness is at the heart of genuine friendship.

Summarizing a Preventive Strategy

No normal person wants to become a wounded parent. We would all like to prevent becoming such, if at all possible. This section will summarize a strategy of prevention. It is aimed primarily at parents of small children in families where there has not yet been enough time for serious parent-child conflicts to arise.

One of the unexpected consequences of the widespread readership of the first edition of this book was the large number of parents who said something like this: “I wish that I had read this book when my children were preschoolers. I think we could have prevented a lot of our problems from emerging as they did.” Others said that when they first saw the book’s title they felt it wasn’t for
them, since they did not see themselves as “wounded” parents. Their children were quite small. But friends urged them to read it for preventive reasons. Many “sweet babies” will one day find themselves swirling in the “terrible teens.”
Consequently:

1. Early on, make friends with your children. You don’t have to become “buddies” and “pals” and lose your position of authority and parental leadership, but good parenting balances authority and friendship. Learn the art of having fun with your children. Play does not destroy respect for parents but rather enhances it.

2. Give your children quality time, not the leftovers of a busy life. Most people are busy and have hectic schedules.
It seems there are never enough hours in the day to do all we have to do. Consequently, we have to establish priorities, and at the top of the list should be one’s family. If you are too busy to spend quality time with your children, then you are definitely too busy.
One minister told me that his list read like this: God, first; the church, second; his family, third. As kindly as I knew how, I responded that he would still be putting God first if he put his family first in meeting their needs. Some ministers have built great churches while neglecting their families. I believe such ministers are failures in God’s eyes.

3. Begin early to control your family television. The TV is not all bad; there is much good we can gain from it. ungodly values that come across the screen daily. However, there are many secular, materialistic, and Just as we protect our children from exposure to disease, bad food, and contaminated water, so should we protect them from daily doses of violence, sexual immorality, greedy and materialistic role models, and the other anti-Christian values communicated through many programs on television.

My wife and I were among the first generation of parents to raise children with a television in the home. Because we had no idea what moral power this instrument could have over our children, we were ill-prepared to control and monitor its influence in our home. We wrongly assumed that anything good enough for public viewing on television would be good enough for us. Now we know differently.

Parents simply must take charge of the television set and filter out the bad programs while they filter in the good ones. Otherwise children naively assume that if it’s all right for Mother and Dad to watch, it’s fine for them too. The blunt truth is that television is a powerful molder of values and shaper of moral character. If not controlled, it can be a serious countering agent for the desired childrearing goals
of Christian parents.

4. Teach and model for your children early on how to select friends carefully. This is a problem for Christians who heed the scriptural command to reach out and witness to non-believers. However, friendships for small children need to be carefully chosen, lest they be unmindfully influenced in a wrong direction. Many youngsters have been badly
influenced into drugs, pornography, sex, and bad language by a poor choice of friends. Christians are to be “in the world” but not “of the world.” Parental example and instruction go a long way in guiding children to be discriminating in their choice of playmates.

5. Spend time learning helpful childrearing techniques. There are many excellent authors whose books on good Christian parenting techniques are readily available. Attend one lecture on the topic. Every church should offer at least one course a year on parenting. Ask your pastor or Christian education committee to take the lead in providing such opportunities.

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6. As your children grow and mature, gradually release control over them and trust them to be responsible. Parenting involves a process of building into a child the powers of self-control. Parents cannot forever be hovering over their children, telling them every move to make. You really don’t want to do that for the remainder of their lives.

You want them to grow up and be responsible for themselves. Therefore, you have to start early: releasing and trusting. There is a big difference between control and guidance. Yes, you “control” a three-year-old headed for a busy street. But you also take time to teach him or her why not to play in a busy street. Parenting is a process of morning from control to guidance to freedom.

7. Set firm yet loving parameters in your home. Clear boundaries regarding behavior are needed early. There need to be both house rules as well as out-of-house standards. Children become quickly confused and out-of-control when they are permitted to do whatever they please.
They easily recognize that such “freedom” does not reflect genuine love. Even though they will inevitably test the boundaries, they will recognize that limits reflect that their parents care about them.
8. Model in your own life what you expect from your children and be unashamedly Christian about it (without being “preachy”). Be Christ-centered and church-centered in your lifestyle. Tell your children early on how you came to know God in Christ for yourself. Explain why you take the family to church.

Don’t assume they understand by some mystical osmosis. Live the goals you want your children to aspire to If you want them to be honest, truthful, decent, respectful, loving, prayerful, caring persons, then you must model these character traits in front of them.

9. Engage in family worship as a regular habit, making it enjoyable rather than a burdensome duty. The smaller the children, the briefer this time should be, but even infants and toddlers can learn the values of worship time as a family. As the children get older, let them share in the readings, comments, and prayers. When youngsters grow up and look back on these times, they will never forget their spiritual “roots.”

10. Give your children a good marriage as an example. Happy, well-adjusted, responsible people testify that their parents had a sound marriage. Such a marriage is characterized by respectful love, enjoyable conversation, thoughtful actions, considerate attention, careful listening, and deep commitment to each other. If genuine commitment is present, difficulties and differences can be managed. The father of one family was a traveling salesman who was out of town most weeks from Monday until Friday. One Monday evening the mother had prepared warmed-up leftovers for dinner. The three sons, ages nine, ten, and twelve, came in and looked at the meal. The oldest son said
disgustedly, “Mama, why is it that when Daddy’s here you fix the best meals in town; but when Daddy’s gone, you feed us this?” With the wisdom of Solomon the mother smilingly replied, “Well, son, it’s like this: Your father and I have a permanent commitment; you kids are just passing through!” What a lesson! Those children could always rest assured that their family was going to stay together. Their parents had a solid commitment to each other. That’s a good feeling for children to have.
A fourth-grade schoolteacher asked her class to write a short essay on “What I Like About My Home.” One boy wrote: “In our home, Mama has a cookie jar full of cookies.
We can eat them only with special permission. When Daddy is home, he can eat from the cookie jar anytime he wants to. When Daddy comes in from work, he goes into the kitchen where Mama is fixing supper. Daddy pats

Mama on the rear and gives her a big kiss; you would think they just got married. I like the way my daddy loves my mama. That’s what I like about my home.”

11. Learn how to grow spiritually all of your life. This
involves character, attitudes, feelings, and not simply being formally “religious.” Such growth models spiritual growth for your children. They will not likely grow any more than you do. Of all the things you teach your children, nothing is more important than what you teach them about God. And the best teaching is done through your personal example.
12. Discover and relate to the members of your family on the deeper levels of relating mentioned above. These deeper levels of caring, sharing, and intimacy are thoroughly explained in my book We Need Each Other. Talk and action are not enough. Go deeper. If you’ve been practicing indepth relating with your children through their early years, when they reach their teenage years they will not be secretive and withdrawn from you. They will continue to see you as a trusted friend and confidant.

13. Finally, remember that nothing works perfectly. You may do all the “right things” and still become a wounded parent. Sometimes we simply do not know why a son or daughter reared in a Christian home goes off into “the far country” morally and spiritually. Parents are not always to blame for what their children do or the decisions they make that cause parental pain. You just have to trust God and do the best you can. A good Christian home where Christ’s love prevails is still the best place and the best way to rear children.

In 1982 I was interviewed on a national television program. After asking several pertinent questions about why I wrote The Wounded Parent, the interviewer asked me, “Dr. Greenfield, how is it that Spirit-filled and godly Christian
parents can have a son or daughter become a prodigal morally and spiritually and break their hearts? Many people believe that consecrated Christian homes will not have such problems.”

I responded, “Yes, that myth is still floating around in
most of our churches: If you are a dedicated Christian, you won’t have any problems. That’s a myth!”
The interviewer retorted, “Does the Bible say that?”
Then I recounted from the Sermon on the Mount the words of Jesus about the two houses (see Matt. 7:24-27). One was built on sand, and the other was constructed on rock. The rain, floods, and winds stormed against both houses. Both experienced the same stress and strain. But the one on sand fell; the one on rock stood. The houses are not differentiated; they appear the same. The difference?
The foundations. Christian homes will experience many of the same problems other homes do, but they have a solid foundation. They have spiritual resources for survival that others don’t have.
The interviewer’s eyes lit up and he said, “That’s pretty good. Jesus said that, didn’t he?”
“Yes,” I responded, “Jesus said that.”
Then he said, “And Jesus is right, isn’t he?”
“Yes, Ben, I believe Jesus is right!” The illustration seemed to be a new revelation on this TV program!
Later, my host commented in the dressing room as my makeup was being removed, “That was some response you gave out there on camera.’
“Oh?” I said. “Yeah, we don’t hear that kind of explanation very much here. But good Christians do have problems, don’t they? And Jesus taught us that, didn’t he? And Jesus is right!” “Yes,” I replied, “Jesus is right!”

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Questions for Discussion

1. In developing a redemptive strategy to deal with your current situation, what points in this chapter (first section) speak most directly to you and your family?

2. What are some immediate steps you could take to enrich your marriage? How would this help your situation with a wayward son or daughter?

3. Illustrate how you are currently trying to move from control to communication; from judgment to respect; from less talking to more listening.

4. If you are the parent of small children (preschoolers, early grade-schoolers), what steps in the above preventive strategy speak most directly to you and your family?

5. If one of your children was asked at school or church to write an essay on “What I Like About My Home,” what would he or she write? Role-play on this one.

6. What behavior characteristics do you expect from your children? List several. Ask your husband or wife if you are modeling these traits very well yourself.

Books About
Parenting Techniques

The Wounded Parent is written primarily for parents who wish to do something about themselves. It is not a self-help book about parenting techniques as such. The children of some wounded parents are in their early teens while others are in college or even in their twenties or thirties. This book was designed to help wounded parents regardless of the ages of their children.

However, some readers still have their children at home and are in need of special guidance about childrearing. The following books have been helpful to many parents. No one book is perfect or will address the issues your family is facing. But you should find many helpful ideas and practical
suggestions that apply to you and your family situation.

Brazelton, T. Berry, M.D. Families: Crisis and Caring. Reading,
Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1989.

Bustanoby, Andre. Being a Single Parent. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1985.

Dinkmeyer, Don, and McKay, Gary D. The Parent’s Handbook:
Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, Circle Pines, Minn
American Guidance Service, 1982.

The Parent’s Guide: Systematic Training for Effective
Parenting of Teens. Circle Pines, Minn: American Guidance
Service, 1983.

Dinkmeyer, Don, et al. The Effective Parent. Circle Pines, Minn.:
American Guidance Service, 1987.

Dobson, James. Hide or Seek: How to Build Self-Esteem in Your
Child. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1974.

Parenting Isn’t for Cowards: Dealing Confidently with the Frustrations of Child-Rearing. Waco, Tex.: Word Books, 1987.

Dreikurs, Rudolf, and Soltz, Vicki. Children: The Challenge. New
York: Hawthorn Books, 1964.

Gordon, Thomas. E. T., Parent Effectiveness Training: The Tested
New Way to Raise Responsible Children. New York: New
American Library, 1975.

Grant, W. Wayne, M.D. Growing Parents, Growing Children.
Nashville: Convention Press, 1980.

Hendricks, Howard G., et al. The Encyclopedia of Christian
Parenting. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1982.

Juroe, David J. and Bonnie B. Successful Step-Parenting: Loving
and Understanding Stepchildren. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1983.

Ketterman, Grace H., M.D. You and Your Child’s Problems: How
to Understand and Solve Them. Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1983.

Leman, Kevin. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. Old
Tappan, N. J.: Revell, 1984.

For parents who are having extreme difficulties with
rebellious teenagers, the following books are available.
Dollar, Truman S., and Ketterman, Grace H., M.D. Teenage
Rebellion, Old Tappan, N. J.: Revell, 1979.

Kennedy, D. James. Your Prodigal Child. Nashville: Thomas
Nelson, 1988.

Lewis, Margie M., and Lewis, Gregg. The Hurting Parent. Grand
Rapids: Zondervan, 1980.

White, John. Parents in Pain. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity,
1979.

For parents with the especially difficult problems of suicide, child sexual abuse, or homosexuality in the family, the following may be helpful.
Hewett, John H. After Suicide. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980.

Peters, David B. A Betrayal of Innocence: What Everyone Should
Know About Child Sexual Abuse. Waco, Tex.: Word Books,
1986.

Switzer, David K. and Shirley A. Parents of the Homosexual.
Philadelphia: Westminster, 1980.

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